Durham’s just as interesting without a T-shirt

Jul. 05, 2013 @ 02:22 PM

I’d rather not be shot in Durham, the face, the leg or even the spleen – no matter what some T-shirt might say.

And while Cary might be boring to some, maybe even almost as numbing as a controversial fabric-festooned one-liner suggests, I don’t think it inflicts terminal apathy.

After all, I lived there once – from April 2006 to January 2011 - and I survived.

Come to think of it, I’ve only lived in Durham since August 2011. That was after I took a detour to Huntsville, Ala., for a few months.

In retrospect, maybe all it takes to appreciate the positive aspects of both Cary and Durham is a sabbatical in a small high-tech pocket of civilization in the northeast corner of Alabama - hunkered down like an abused nerd in a locker room - just in time for a wave of tornados to blow through.

Cary proved interesting to me because of major roads that seemed to go inexorably in circles, their excessive zeal for concealed retail signage (especially before I had a GPS) and the fact that their busiest shopping center at the time – Crossroads – was a cluster of commerce islands accessible mostly by hurling your car through the surrounding traffic gantlets.

Oh, you could walk from Best Buy to the Vitamin Shoppe, I suppose, if you didn’t mind risking life and limb.

But that little suburb tucked between Raleigh and Durham also boasts some of my favorite restaurants, including Woody’s wing joint, Sushi Thai and not just one but two Cuban places – Havana Grill outside downtown Cary and Carmen’s near the airport.

My more recently adopted home of Durham scores higher on the culinary scale, though. It comes honestly by the label “Tastiest Town in the South.” From Elmo’s to Vine to Blue Note to Tobacco Road to…well, it’s a big patch of turf with many more good places to eat than I knew further east along Interstate 40.

However, maybe I’ve mentioned this before: I’m a Florida native. It’s safe to assume I’ve got at a mixture of Coppertone, pina coladas and helium from Mickey Mouse balloons oozing through my veins.

If I must be shot, let it be from the launch tube of The Hulk rollercoaster at Islands of Adventure.

I grew up with theme parks, water parks, nature parks, seas, lakes, rivers, sprawling space centers, pirate invasions and “Miami Vice,” all within easy reach.

So, forgive me if I find this back-and-forth over Durham and Cary just a little dull. Right now, the closest rollercoasters are near Charlotte and Williamsburg.

Well, those would be the closest literal rollercoasters. As my mother reminded me just a few weeks ago, the arrival of our son, John Michael, signaled the start of the most amazing thrill ride I’m ever liable to take.

I might miss easy access to amusement parks and beaches, but Durham is home now. I’m building a family here. It’s about the most interesting place I could ever be.

I don’t need a snarky T-shirt to prove it.


Wes Platt can be reached at 919-419-6684 or wplatt@heraldsun.com . Follow on Twitter at @HS_WesPlatt. Connect on Facebook at facebook.com/wesplattheraldsun.